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March 1, 2011
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I'm a 35 year old woman and on average, I have about 1.5 glasses of wine each night, about 5 times a week. Is this too much? Should I be concerned about any health risks?

I'm a 35 year old woman and on average, I have about 1.5 glasses of wine each night, about 5 times a week. Is this too much? Should I be concerned about any health risks?

This is a very common question.  The first thing I need to know is:  what size are the glasses of wine you are drinking?  The standard serving of wine is 5 ounces, which is much smaller than what the average person considers a glass of wine.  A small wine glass will easily hold 6 ounces of wine, whereas a larger glass will hold even more.  For this answer, I will assume your wine glass is 5 ounces.  One and a half glasses per night would be equal to 5 ounces plus 2.5 ounces per night for a total of 7.5 ounces per night.  If you multiply that by 5 times per week, you are drinking on average 37.5 ounces of wine per week.  Heavy drinking for women is defined as more than seven drinks per week.  Remember, a drink of wine is defined as 5 ounces.  So 5 ounces x 7 drinks would equal 35 ounces of wine per week.  Therefore, any wine consumption for a woman that exceeds 35 ounces per week is considered heavy drinking.  Heavy drinking has been associated with several health risks including heart problems, ulcers, liver problems and increased risk for cancer among others.  So yes, it is good that you are concerned about potential health risks associated with the amount of wine you are drinking.  Talk with your physician to determine if it would be sufficient for you to attempt to decrease your wine intake to less than the at-risk level, or if it would be best for you to stop drinking alcohol completely.

A great book that details one woman's journey through alcoholism to sobriety is Why You Drink and How to Stop: A Journey to Freedom.  You may consider taking a read and seeing if you can relate.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. H

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